Talk of government regulation didn’t stop shoppers from visiting Lincoln’s newest electronic cigarette shop, which held its grand opening Sunday.
In fact, Generation V E-Cigarettes and Vape Bar, located at 5540 South St., had the biggest day of sales the chain owner has ever seen.
“We were packed,” owner Sarah Linden said. “We had four employees working, and I ended up having friends working because we were so busy. Most of the time I was helping two people at once.”
The store contains a 12-foot long vape bar where customers can try various e-liquids and socialize. Unlike smoking, vaping is the act of inhaling water vapor through an electronic cigarette, or e-cig. The water vapor, or e-liquid, is comprosed of two base ingredients that make up the liquid called vegetable glycerin and propylene glycol, flavors like watermelon and peach and can include nicotine and distilled water.
E-cigs have grown in popularity both locally and nationally – a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found that their use among middle- and high-schoolers doubled between 2011 and 2012 – but the products have seen some backlash from Nebraska government. Wilber Sen. Russ Karpisek introduced a bill in the legislature last month that would add vapor products to the list of tobacco-based items that children younger than 18 can’t legally purchase.
Meanwhile, Lincoln’s health department has heard complaints about people using e-cigs inside businesses as well as calls from the businesses themselves seeking a ban on indoor use, according to an Oct. 8 Lincoln Journal Star article.
The health effects of e-cigs remain unclear. A French study released last fall found that three in 10 e-cigarettes contain carcinogens and other hazardous chemicals, including the same amount of formaldehyde as traditional cigarettes and diethylene glycol, a chemical found in antifreeze.
But the CDC has yet to release any official findings on the health risks of e-cigs, and some say that current research may be inaccurate.
“The thing about most studies is that they’re done on multiple manufacturers,” said Jeremy Spencer, one of the owners of GNS Vapor, another local store specializing in e-cigarettes and e-juice, in a September Daily Nebraskan article. “A lot of the juice is made in China in large batches, and it’s not as high of quality as those made here in the States. Everything we sell is made in small batches.”
For Generation V’s part, the business doesn’t sell its products to minors, a stance similar to most area e-cig shops. Linden said Generation V self-regulates because the company believes it is wrong to sell its products to minors. Linden said she believes regulation of e-cigs will come soon, making it illegal for minors to use them.
Linden said the company is more interested in converting smokers than getting new people to vape.
“We don’t want anyone to start a habit that costs money,” Linden said. “We’re more interested in helping people transition to a healthier habit from an unhealthy one.”
Generation V caters mostly to the beginner or intermediate vaper, Linden said.
“We help (customers) enjoy vaping so that they can get off cigarettes altogether,” she said.
Linden believes with that with strong customer service and quality products, Generation V will stand out from similar shops that have already been established in Lincoln. She said that Generation V only offers brand name devices, all of the store’s e-liquid is American-made and all of it is USP, which means it’s food and pharmaceutical grade. Linden said Generation V creates its e-liquid in a food-grade lab to ensure that every e-liquid sold doesn’t have anything unwanted in it and that all ingredients are from the U.S.
“We really take the time to find out what they need and we show them how different vaporizers work and how to fill the liquid when (customers) get home,” Linden said.
Generation V also troubleshoots for customers and has free servicing of equipment even if the product wasn’t bought from Generation V. Linden said there is also a money-back guarantee on all Generation V products.
The chain has four locations, with three in southern California. Linden said she’d like to expand to other parts of Nebraska. When opening the store, Linden said that Lincoln was very accepting of e-cigarettes. Linden said she is happy that the senators were open minded and willing to work with them rather than against them.
“They’re fully supportive of e-cigarettes because it’s a healthier alternative to smoking,” she said. “If you can stop one or two or three or five people from dying of lung cancer, you would think you would have to do everything that you can to make that happen, right?”